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when he sings, had on a decent shag great-coat with yellow buttons."
Now, I would stake a considerable wager (though by no means a positive man) that some such mitigated description would lead the beagles of the law into a much surer track for finding this ungracious varlet, than to set them upon a false scent after fictitious ugliness and fictitious shabbiness; though, to do those gentlemen justice, I have no doubt their experience has taught them in all such cases to abate a great deal of the deformity which they are instructed to expect; and has discovered to them that the devil's agents upon this earth, like their master, are far less ugly in reality than they are painted.
I am afraid, Mr. Reflector, that I shall be thought to have gone wide of my subject, which was to detect the practical errors of physiognomy, properly so called; whereas I have introduced physical defects, such as lameness, the effects of ac cidents upon a man's person, his wearing apparel, &c., as circumstances on which the eye of dislike, looking askance, may report erroneous conclusions to the understanding.
But if we are liable, through a kind or an unkind passion, to mistake so grossly concerning things so exterior and palpable, how much more are we likely to err respecting those nicer and less perceptible hints of character in a face, whose detection constitutes the triumph of the physiognomist.
To revert to those bestowers of unmerited deformity, the framers of advertisements for the apprehension of delinquents, a sincere desire of promoting the ends of public justice, induces me to address a word to them on the best means of attaining those ends. I will endeavour to lay down a few practical, or rather negative rules for their use, for my ambition extends no further than to arm them with cautions against the self-defeating of their own purposes :
1. Imprimis, then, Mr. Advertiser! If the culprit whom you are willing to recover be one to whom in times past you have shown kindness, and been disposed to think kindly of him yourself, but he has deceived your trust, and has run away and left you with a load of debt to answer for him, sit down calmly, and endeavour to behold him through the spectacles of memory rather than of present conceit. Image to yourself, before you pen a tittle of his description, the same plausible, good-looking man who took you in ; and try to put away from your mind every intrusion of that deceitful spectre which perpetually obtrudes itself in the room of your former friend's known visage. It will do you more credit to have been deceived by such a one ; and, depend upon it, the traitor will convey to the eyes of the
world in general much more of that first idea which you formed (perhaps in part erroneous) of his physiognomy, than of tha frightful substitute which you have suffered to creep in upon your mind and usurp upon it; a creature which has no archetype except in your own brain.
2. If you be a master that have to advertise a runaway apprentice, though the young dog's faults are known only to you, and no doubt his conduct has been aggravating enough, do not presently set him down as having crooked ankles. have a good pair of legs, and run away. notwithstanding. Indeed, the latter does rather seem to imply the former.
3. If the unhappy person against whom your laudable vengeance is directed be a thief, think that a thief may have a good nose, good eyes, good ears. It is indispensable to his profession that he be possessed of sagacity, foresight, vigilance; it is more than probable, then, that he is endued with the bodily types or instruments of these qualities to some tolerable degree of perfectness.
4. If petty larceny be his offence, I exhort you, do not confound meanness of crime with diminutiveness of stature. These things have no connexion. I have known a tall man stoop to the basest action, a short man aspire to the height of crime, a fair man be guilty of the foulest actions, &c.
5. Perhaps the offender has been guilty of some atrocious and aggravated murder. Here is the most difficult case of all. It is above all requisite that such a daring violator of the
peace and safety of society should meet with his reward, a violent and ignominious death. But how shall we get at him? Who is there among us, that has known him before he committed the offence, that shall take upon him to say he can sit down coolly and pen a dispassionate description of a murderer ? The tales of our nursery--the reading of our youth--the ill-looking man that was hired by the uncle to despatch the Children in the Wood—the grim ruffians who smothered the babes in the Tower-the black and beetlebrowed assassin of Mrs. Radcliffe—the shag-haired villain of Mr. Monk Lewis—the Tarquin-tread and mill-stone dropping eyes of murder in Shakspeare---the exaggerations of picture and of poetry—what we have read and what we have dreamed of-rise up and crowd in upon us such eye-scaring portraits of the man of blood, that our pen is absolutely forestalled; we commence poets when we should play the part of strictest historians, and the very blackness of horror which the deed calls up, serves as a cloud to screen the doer. The fiction is blameless, it is accordant with those wise prejudices with which nature has guarded our innocence, as with impassable barriers, against the commission of such appalling crimes ; but meantime the crim." inal escapes, or if-owing to that wise abatement in their expectation of deformity, which, as I hinted at before, the officers of pursuit never fail to make, and no doubt in cases of this sort they make a more than ordinary allowance-if, owing to this or any accident, the offender is caught and brought to his trial, who that has been led out of curiosity to witness such a scene, has not with astonishment reflected on the difference between a real committer of a murder, and the idea of one which he has been collecting and heightening all his life out of books, dreams, &c. The fellow, perhaps, is a sleek, snuglooking man, with light hair and eyebrows--the latter by no means jutting out or like a crag-and with none of those marks which our fancy had pre-bestowed upon him.
I find I am getting unawares too serious ; the best way on such occasions is to leave off, which I shall do by generally recommending to all prosecuting advertisers not to confound crimes with ugliness; or rather, to distinguish between that physiognomical deformity, which I am willing to grant always accompanies crime, and mere physical ugliness—which signifies nothing, is the exponent of nothing, and may exist in a good or bad person indifferently.
ON THE INCONVENIENCES RESULTING FROM
To the Editor of the Reflector.
SIR– I am one of those unhappy persons whose misfortunes, it seems, do not entitle them to the benefit of pure pity. All that is bestowed upon me of that kindest alleviator of human miseries, comes dashed with a double portion of contempt. My griefs have nothing in them that is felt as sacred by the bystanders. Yet is my affliction in truth of the deepest grain. The heaviest task that was ever given to mortal patience to sustain. Time, that wears out all other sorrows, can never modify or soften mine. Here they must continue to gnaw, as long as that fatal mark
Why was I ever born? Why was innocence in my person suffered to be branded with a stain which was appointed only for the blackest guilt? What had I done, or my parents, that a disgrace of mine should involve a whole posterity in infamy?
I am almost tempted to believe, that, in some pre-existent state, crimes to which this sublunary life of mine hath been as much a stranger as the babe that is newly born into it, have drawn down upon me this vengeance, so disproportionate to my actions on this globe.
My brain sickens, and my bosom labours to be delivered of the weight that presses upon it, yet my conscious pen shrinks from the avowal But out it must
Oh, Mr. Reflector! guess at the wretch's misery who now writes this to you, when, with tears and burning blushes, he is obliged to confess that he has been
Methinks I hear an involuntary exclamation burst from you as your imagination presents to you fearful images of your correspondent unknown-hanged !
Fear not, Mr. Editor. No disimbodied spirit has the honour of addressing you. I am flesh and blood, an unfortunate system of bones, muscles, sinews, arteries, like yourself.
Then, I presume, you mean to be pleasant—that expression of yours, Mr. Correspondent, must be taken somehow in a met aphorical sense.
In the plainest sense, without trope or figure—yes, Mr. Editor! this neck of mine has felt the fatal noose, these hands have tremblingly held up the corroborative prayer-book, these lips have sucked the moisture of the last consolatory orange, this tongue has chanted the doleful cantata which no performer has ever been called upon to repeat, this face has had the veiling nightcap drawn over it
But for no crime of mine. Far be it from me to arraign the justice of my country, which, though tardy, did at length recognise my innocence. It is not for me to reflect upon judge or jury, now that eleven years. have elapsed since the erroneous sentence was pronounced. Men will always be fallible, and perhaps circumstances did appear at the time a
Suffice it to say, that after hanging four minutes, (as the spectators were pleased to compute it-a man that is being strangled, I know from experience, has altogether a different measure of time from his friends who are breathing leisurely about him-- I suppose the minutes lengthen as time approaches eternity, in the same manner as miles get longer as you travel northward,) after hanging four minutes, according to the best calculation of the bystanders, a reprieve came, and I was cut DOWN
Really I am ashamed of deforming your pages with these technical phrases--if I knew how to express my meaning shorter
But to proceed. My first care after I had been brought tu -myself by the usual methods, (those methods that are so -interesting to the operator and his assistants, who are pretty numerous on such occasions, but which no patient was ever desirous of undergoing a second time for the benefit of science,) my first care was to provide myself with an enormous stock or cravat to hide the place—you understand me; my next care was to procure a residence as distant as possible from that part of the country where I had suffered. For that reason I chose the metropolis, as the place where wounded honour (I had been told) could lurk with the least danger of exciting inquiry, and stigmatized innocence had the best chance of hiding her disgrace in a crowd. I sought out a new circle of acquaintance, and my circumstances happily enabling me to pursue my fancy in that respect, I endeavoured, by mingling in all the pleasures which the town affords, to efface the memory of what I had undergone.
But alas ! such is the portentous and all-pervading chain of connexion which links together the head and members of this great community, my scheme of lying perdu was defeated almost at the outset. A countryman of mine, whom a foolish lawsuit had brought to town, by chance met me, and the secret was soon blazoned about.
In a short time I found myself deserted by most of those who had been my intimate friends. Not that any guilt was supposed to attach to my character. My officious countryman, to do him justice, had been candid enough to explain my perfect innocence. But, somehow or other, there is a want of strong virtue in mankind. We have plenty of the softer instincts, but the heroic character is gone. How else can I account for it, that of all my numerous acquaintance, among whom I had the honour of ranking sundry persons of education, talents, and worth, scarcely here and there one or two could be found who had the courage to associate with a man that had been hanged.
Those few who did not desert me altogether were persons of strong but coarse minds; and from the absence of all delicacy in them I suffered almost as much as from the superabundance of a false species of it in the others. Those who stuck by me were the jokers, who thought themselves entitled by the fidelity which they had shown towards me to use me with what familiarity they pleased. Many and unfeeling are the jests that I have suffered from these rude (because faithful) Achateses. As they passed me in the streets, one would nod significantly to his companion and say, pointing to me, Smoke his cravat, and ask me if I had got a wen, that I was so